Some people who struggle with addictive behaviors travel to South America for ayahuasca addiction treatment. While many cultures use the drug, it and its derivatives are banned in the United States because of the active ingredient DMT and many adverse side effects.
Before making such a journey, consider the following ayahuasca facts.
What is Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is a drink prepared by shamans by boiling the vines of banisteriopsis caapi and leaves of the Psychotria viridis, locally known as chacruna or chaliponga plants. The mixture has beta-carboline harmala alkaloids and Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). These MAOIs allow the active ingredient, DMT, to cross the blood-brain barrier with hallucinogenic side effects.
DMT is a schedule I drug and is illegal in most countries. Although prohibited in the United States, one church gained access through a court ruling saying a tea concoction containing ayahuasca is used in religious ceremonies. Access was granted to members of the church based on freedom of religion if regulations are followed as specified by the courts.
What are the Effects of Drinking Ayahuasca?
Drinking ayahuasca affects human consciousness within a half hour of consumption. While the effects peak after two hours, they can last up to six. Along with visual and auditory hallucinations, the drug can increase blood pressure and heart rate.
There is no control over the psychedelic effects (trip), and some people experience severe psychological stress. People with heart disease are at great risk of over-stimulation and should not consume the mixture.
The mixture will also cause a purging of the body through vomiting or diarrhea. In the Amazon, purging is considered a positive side effect as it cleanses parasites and worms from the body. But great caution must be taken to not dehydrate.
It is the purging that is a key part of the ayahuasca addiction treatment. Shamans believe purging the body of chemical toxins is essential to recovery. While many addiction recovery professional will agree with the concept, the method is debated because the potential for severe negative side effects.
The Dark Side of Ayahuasca Addiction Treatment
The drug is a powerful purgative and removes a significant number of toxins from the body. But, the drug is dangerous as it can cause feelings of terror and hopelessness. Many people who try the drug report feeling that death was upon them and could not be stopped.
These intense emotions can cause too much physical and psychological stress for those already in a vulnerable state. For those suffering with mental illness and substance abuse, the effects can terrify and cause more damage to an already compromised mental condition. Even more dangerous is the person who is undiagnosed but suffering from mental illness. Such experienced can cause unrepairable damage.
Other Dangers of Traveling to South America for Ayahuasca Addiction Treatment
Along with the potential stress drinking ayahuasca can cause the body, one must be aware of the danger of being mistreated by locals wanting to make money off the growing industry. For thousands of years, Shamans trained to administer herbal cures. Now, considering the increased market, fake Shamans arrived on the scene in South America. Some of them are gringos and others are natives, but none of them are trained properly.
Reports of deaths due to poorly mixed potions, potions with other drugs added, and unscreened patients reacting to the drugs are common. The drug causes the body to become heavy and sluggish in most cases, but the person is alert and aware of everything that happens. Women report being beaten and raped after the drug is administered. Those who suffer from mental disorders have stabbed and maimed themselves. One “shaman” even hid the body of a man who had died during his vision quest.
While people are looking for relief from addictions, cancer, and other problems, many of them are finding real-life nightmares.
Other Nightmares Caused by Ayahuasca Addiction Treatment
It needs to be stressed that taking the ayahuasca potion can be traumatic and dangerous. The increased consciousness that people are seeking can also increase awareness of past traumas. Often, those seeking relief relive the trauma. Because the senses are open and enhanced, reliving the trauma in this state can cause more damage. It is reported that some people with mental health issues, diagnosed or not, have not recovered from the “spiritual journey”.
Many of the lodges set up to administer ayahuasca addiction treatment do not have clinical staff present. No one is trained to give psychotherapy should an unscreened person suffer a mental breakdown during the retreat, let alone during the administration of the potion.
Food and Drug Interactions with Ayahuasca Can Cause Death Too
Mental breakdowns, heart problems, and being the victim of crime is not the only danger of taking ayahuasca. Because the potion is an MAOI, combining certain drugs and foods with the drug can be fatal. If a person has been taking anti-depressants, he or she can have severe reactions including heart tachycardia, seizures, paresthesia, detachment from reality, convulsions, and death. It takes months for these drugs to clear the system, so a person would need to be off medication for a long time before starting ayahuasca addiction treatment. This presents other problems for those struggling with mental health issues.
Along with drug interactions, certain foods containing the amino acid tyramine can cause these reactions. Those who take DMT and MAOIs must avoid fermented foods, cheeses, liver, smoked meats, chicken, fish, chocolate, yeast, avocados, meat tenderizers, and alcohol. If a person eats these foods while using MAOIs, hypertension, brain hemorrhaging, migraines, nausea and vomiting, changes in vision, shortness of breath and other problems can occur.
Don’t Risk Your Life with Ayahuasca Addiction Treatment
When a person chooses treatment to combat the effects of addiction, that treatment should be safe, monitored, and life enhancing. Whatever help ayahuasca may have offered indigenous people at combating addictions, it has been corrupted by greed and financial gain. Reports of abuse, molestation, rape, and inadequate services for those who experience extreme traumatic visions are cause for alarm.
Add to these reports the many deaths caused by heart failure and the prognosis of ayahuasca as a positive treatment does not look good.
Alternatives to Ayahuasca Addiction Treatment
For those seeking introspection as part of addiction recovery, look for treatment centers that offer cognitive behavior therapy and other tools for uncovering past traumas. Journaling is a great tool for uncovering why addiction began and events that need to be addressed for sustained recovery.
For those struggling with trauma, rapid reduction technique can help process traumatic events so the brain no longer reacts with an emotional charge if the memory is recalled. This allows people to relax and come out of the fight-or-flight response they have lived with since the traumatic event.
Many accredited addiction recovery programs offer a spiritual component for those desiring to increase faith through recovery. Mindfulness and meditation can increase awareness and contact with spirituality regardless of one’s spiritual path.
Ready for Holistic Addiction Recovery
Northlake Recovery in Southern Florida offers holistic treatment for addiction recovery. Our program focuses on every aspect of a person’s well-being to offer lasting change. If you are seeking a spiritual journey like many who have tried ayahuasca addiction treatment, but want a safe environment without more drug use, call (561)-770-6616 now.